This story is part of a series called Wrong Way Tragedy, about the lasting impacts of the fatal drunken driving accident that claimed eight lives on the Taconic State Parkway on July 26, 2009. Other stories in series included Shock, Mystery Still Linger, First Responders Look Back, and Supporting the First Responders.
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- The Taconic State Parkway crash was not the only deadly car crash involving children in 2009. Leandra Rosado, 11, was riding in an SUV with six other children in October when it crashed on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan.
Rosado died in the crash. The others survived.
Rosado’s death, and the fatal crash on the Taconic Parkway, lead to the Child Passenger Protection Act—nicknamed “Leandra’s Law" after Rosado. The law gives tougher sanctions to those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while there’s a child passenger in the car.
"From here on, those that think it's OK to drink and drive with children in the car ... will pay the price," Rosado’s father Lenny said after the bill-signing ceremony. "My daughter's name and Leandra's Law will save lives from here on. Her legacy will live."
Leandra’s Law has several provisions for drivers who endanger children by driving under the influence.
The law makes it a felony to drive drunk or under the influence of drugs while a child age 16 or younger is in the car, and calls for automatic suspension of a driver's license pending prosecution. Drivers convicted of misdemeanor or felony drunk driving must pay for and install an ignition interlock device inside their car for at least six months.
“Enforcement of Leandra’s Law goes hand in hand with enforcement of DWI laws,” Westchester Department of Public Safety spokesperson Kieran O’Leary said, explaining that when an officer pulls someone over, there could be one person in the car or there might be child passengers.
Last year, O’Leary noted that county police arrested three people under Leandra’s Law and this year they’ve arrested two people so far. O’Leary added that the Leandra’s Law cases are a small percentage of the DWI cases they see.
“Certainly driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is extremely dangerous,” O’Leary said.
When you have passengers who are too young to have a say as to whether they want a person under the influence to drive the car, O’Leary said it was “especially a recipe for disaster.”
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